Bristol’s Lice marry experimental industrial avant-garde noise with a warped and satirical style of post-punk. A “satire about satire”, their debut album “WASTELAND: What Ails Our People Is Clear” (out 8th Jan) is a concept album written as a piece of experimental short fiction – taking cues from the likes of Brian Catling, William Burroughs and Kurt Vonnegut Jr – and is accompanied by a pamphlet containing the albums lyrics / narrative.
The story in itself has been a massive undertaking for the band which has taken the best part of two years to put together. Thematically the band describe it as:
A wild Burroughsian cat-and-mouse adventure, melding science-fiction and magical realism to call for a revolution in satirical music. Arguing that by unsettling the conventional forms of the song lyric, politicised music can step beyond ‘good versus evil’ narratives to promote more nuanced popular discourse around the implicit forms of bias and iniquity that ail us.
The album also features some great guest spots from the likes of Katy J Pearson and Goat Girl’s Lottie Pendlebury and Holly Mullineaux.
Describing this as experimental music might be an understatement. It’s downright insane. 11 tracks of avant-garde weirdness distorted and twisted by post-punk sensibilities but delivered by a band brimming with ideas and the imagination to pull them off. It’s going to leave you scratching your head but it’s not an unenjoyable experience.
It’s also something that really needs to be heard as one complete experience as hearing the odd track out of context is likely to befuddle rather than amaze. Which is what WASTELAND: What Ails Our People Is Clear is, an amazing release. It’s a bold but totally fair statement to say that this is already the most unusual release of 2021. It seems impossible to believe that anyone else could A) come up with something so wacky yet captivating or B) have the skills and talent to realise it.
No such problem for Lice though. From excitable bursts of punkiness to laid back industrial groove and eclectic effects. There isn’t a single track that doesn’t starts in one way but go off in a completely different direction as it goes on. It’s never jarring, nor does it make you feel stupid for not being able to keep up. You have to take your time, turning the initial wow factor into something even grander as more and more pieces of the puzzle slot into place.
2021 has gotten off to a very weird but bloody extraordinary way.
Lice – WASTELAND: What Ails Our People Is Clear Full Track Listing:
Lice - WASTELAND: What Ails Our People Is Clear (Settled Law Records)
The Final Score - 8.5/10